The Renaissance composer Tielman Susato (ca. 1510-1570) founded the first music publishing house using movable music type in the Netherlands. As well as publishing the work of many Flemish composers (including Lassus) he also published several of his own compositions including hugely popular volumes of motets, masses and chansons. His third publication of 1551 was a collection of his own dance music Danserye, Het derde musyck boexken (Danserie, the third Music Book), with a subtitle Alderhande danserye (All manner of danceries). Today it is this collection that is most closely associated with the name Susato.
In all there are 59 four-part dance movements, based in many cases on French, Dutch or German folk-songs. All are carefully prepared, shining examples of their kind with tightly constructed parts lying in close proximity of one another. It is likely that Danserye was aimed at wealthy amateur musicians rather than professional dance musicians, who would most probably have worked out their own versions of the repertoire.
Although Susato gave no indication as regards instrumentation (saying instead that ‘the dances shall be pleasing and appropriate, to be played on instruments of all kinds’) it is most likely that many were originally intended for a quartet of varying sizes of crumhorns or shawms (the bassoon’s predecessor) – ideal then for a modern-day bassoon quartet! Three of Susato’s collection are arranged here: La Morisque, Fagot and Bergerette Sans Roch.